Count YOUR Blessings (Not Everyone Else’s)!
Recently in a conversation with a downcast friend who seemed to be fixated on all the “good things” that happen to “everyone else”, I spontaneously suggested, “It would probably help you to count YOUR OWN blessings instead of everyone else’s.” This is not a thought I’d really considered before – but in the moment, it seemed to be an appropriate word of counsel to help this struggling soul find perspective.
The Painful Process of Losing Spiritual Health
All too often we can find ourselves on a slippery slope of spiritual demise simply by losing focus. Soon, we are unhappy, negative, and unable to see the amazing goodness of God in our own journey. As I have considered this temptation, I see a five-step process of losing perspective when we stop counting our blessings.
1. Doubtful Distraction – Just as the serpent in the garden lured Eve to doubt the veracity of God’s character and promise, then fixate on the deadly fruit, so his fiery darts come against our minds daily to distract us from a focus on the goodness of God. We become preoccupied by thoughts of all the other “attractive options” that promote an empty promise of happiness. Instead of worship, we wonder about what could be “if” we were someone else, lived somewhere else, had something else.
2. Surface Comparison – With our eyes off the Lord, we look around and begin to compare. I often say, “Comparison is an ugly game that no one ever wins.” If you compare yourself favorably, it engenders pride. If you compare yourself unfavorably, it fosters self-pity. In the end, comparison is selfish and the next dreadful step in a journey away from the goodness and providence of God.
3. Defeating Discontent – A chronically unhappy spirit is the inevitable outcome. Instead of savoring the benevolence of God, we question His care for us. This is the antithesis of Paul’s example and admonition. In Philippians 4:8-13 he demonstrates the power of fixing our thoughts on things good, true, and praiseworthy. He emphasizes finding our joy in the Lord, not in self or circumstances. He demonstrates perfect contentment in any and every situation (as he writes from prison). He lives with deep faith in Christ, who strengthens him to attempt and endure all things. What a splendid and healthy way to live.
4. Perilous Ingratitude – Discontent leads to ingratitude. This is a dangerous spiritual condition in which we become blinded from our blessings and distant from the “Fount of Every Blessing.” In Romans chapter one, Paul gives a potent description of progressive spiritual demise, from which no one is immune. Speaking of the tragedy of ingratitude he writes, “They know God, but they do not give him the honor that belongs to him, nor do they thank him. Instead, their thoughts have become complete nonsense, and their empty minds are filled with darkness” (Romans 1:21 – TEV). Dangerous stuff.
5. Spiritual Demise – As the first chapter of Romans describes, and as we have all witnessed in the reality of life, the result is a place of spiritual emptiness, doubt, and distrust. This journey becomes another story of spiritual tragedy that hurts not just the individual that has lost touch with the blessings and character of God, but a wider circle of loved ones and friends. Ultimately, Christ is dishonored by one of His own and His heart is broken by a child that He has constantly loved and blessed in countless ways. Unfortunately, they stopped noticing.
Wisdom From a Friend
The proven wisdom of the hymn-writer Johnson Oatman, Jr. (a businessman who wrote the lyrics to over 500 hymns) seems to come to life with fresh relevance. These encouraging admonitions, published in 1897, could easily express the paragraphs of a letter from a caring friend. Read them again as if they were.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done!
Friend, I encourage you today to count YOUR blessings, not someone else’s. Name them one by one. Delight in them. Speak them out. Let grateful worship fill your heart. Turn your eyes upon Jesus and His goodness. The things of earth, and your skewed perspective about it all, will grow strangely dim. You will be beautifully surprised by the Lord’s goodness and contrite over your unnecessary and self-destructive discontent. See what God has done – and live for His glory with a worshiping, not a wondering and wandering, heart. It will be well with your soul.
Copyright © 2011 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.